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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Last updated: 8:40pm

Student opinions matter when it comes to fees



Take a look at your tuition statement. Of course, you’ll find the expected charges for your tuition, perhaps even a specific differential degree program fee or that additional undergraduate honors program fee.

However, there are supplemental fees that have found their way onto your bill in recent years, and not just those additional lab expenses. These fees fund projects to enhance your UA experience, one way or another.

Each semester, you pay a $200 information technology/library fee, a $150 health and recreation fee and a $40 student services fee, along with a list of others. The financing of these services is not optional, so you ought to be concerned about your return on investment.

According to the Student Affairs website, more than $2 million from the student services fee is spent on project funding for Student Affairs departments including Associated Students of the University of Arizona, Graduate and Professional Student Council and all recognized clubs.

Thank your mandatory health and recreation fee for the Pilates class at the Student Recreation Center that gets you through the week or for the time Campus Health Urgent Care took care of the lab pipet that somehow became a part of your anatomy.

The IT/library fee might just be the most marketable. What student doesn’t want to attend a university at the forefront of implementing cutting-edge technology? From the Integrated Learning Center’s multimedia zone to the Main Library’s soon-to-be unveiling of Microsoft Surface tablets, the UA offers a seemingly endless array of technological innovations to enhance higher education learning.

Our campus is as close to the school version of a tech playground as you can get.

But wait, who asked you if lower-priced meals on Wednesday fit your schedule? Maybe there isn’t even a class at the Rec Center that interests you. And just how frequently do you use the multimedia zone? Mulling over those musings, you would probably conclude that your own student opinion doesn’t affect day-to-day operations on campus.

You’re wrong.

You have the ability to decide where your fees go with two options: join a fee advisory board or respond to those annual fee surveys you put on the back burner and, like the majority of your colleagues, never turn in. With regards to these three particular fee boards, student advisory opinions are capped at around 10 voting members per committee.

It’s true that surveys offer valuable feedback; fee advisory boards offer input in determining where funding is distributed. In spite of the fact that you, as a student, can log online and submit a detailed plan for subsidizing your enterprise, funded project ideas do not normally come directly from students. Departments, administrative employees and faculty create project review folders each year.

It’s sad to conclude that students have not maximized their power to propose projects. We all have opinions about where money should be allocated on campus, but somewhere between the fee advisory boards and the surveys that students shun, the flow of student opinions on fee funding to decision makers is not effective enough.

—Stephanie Zawada is a chemistry and pre-business sophomore, she can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on twitter via @WildcatOpinions


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